Traditionally, lawyers representing plaintiffs in mesothelioma personal injury actions have filed both lawsuits, and at some point during litigation, Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust claims as well.
Many companies that manufactured and/or distributed asbestos containing materials have gone bankrupt. During the bankruptcy reorganization process, a large number of those companies set up Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trusts, which provide compensation to individuals who were exposed to material for which the bankrupt trust is responsible.
But a trend has emerged wherein some mesothelioma patients are opting to forgo litigation, and pursue filing bankruptcy claims only. Their reasons are varied:
Many individuals believed previously to becoming ill they would never file a lawsuit if they or loved one were injured. Unfortunately, for some, there is a stigma attached to being a plaintiff in a lawsuit. They have assumed for years that most plaintiffs in lawsuits were simply litigious in a “blame someone else” society, and simply weren’t aware how often people just like themselves were victimized by corporate greed, every day.
For others, they can’t imagine filing a lawsuit simply because they have never wanted to the deal with the stress they believe is associated with litigation. And to be fair, many plaintiffs do feel stress during the lengthy deposition (testimony recording process) associated with a mesothelioma lawsuit. Let’s face it, it’s not fun to be cross examined by a pack of lawyers, after you have told the truth about your occupational history, when you are: extremely exhausted and ill; trying to plan your future medical treatment; and trying figuring out how to provide care for your spouse and your family in the event of your death.
Mesothelioma patients who find themselves in this circumstance should consider that an alternative option for gaining compensation for their injuries does exist, other than filing a third party lawsuit. A person suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, or another asbestos related disease, can decide to file bankruptcy claims alone, to obtain financial compensation for their injuries.
According to a recent study, “over the past 30 years, 56 asbestos personal injury trusts have been set up on behalf of companies that have filed for reorganization. The largest 26 trusts paid $10.9 billion on 2.4 million claims through 2008.” Moreover, in 2011, there were forty other companies with asbestos liabilities that had previously filed for reorganization, who were waiting to emerge from bankruptcy.
The downside for patients filing bankruptcy claims only, is that the financial recovery for mesothelioma patients can be much less than if they pursued full litigation. Most trusts will pay claimants a predetermined percentage of what their claim is worth had it been litigated. According the same study, the median payment percentage offered to claimants by a settlement trust is twenty-five percent. Some trusts have a payment percentage as low as two percent. But the amount of compensation is not insignificant. The study also determined, as a result, that the median amount paid by an Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust per mesothelioma claim is $41,000. Of course, ever case is different.
There are circumstances where a plaintiff will not be able to file a claim with an Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust, as they simply weren’t exposed to products for which any trust is responsible.
But for others, the amount of compensation through the trust system can be substantial, in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is useful for plaintiffs to know that their attorney’s should be investigating whether or not they qualify to have their claims filed.
If you or someone you know is suffering from mesothelioma or an asbestos related disease, and is need of legal assistance, you can contact the Asbestos Legal Center for a free consultation, at 1-800-970-3878.